Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gopinath Munde suffered a serious political setback on Monday, when the official BJP nominee for the Parli Municipal Council president elections suffered a resounding defeat at the hands of an independent candidate backed by his rebellious nephew, Dhananjay Munde.
The simmering week-long dispute within the Munde family in Parli finally came to a boil on Monday, when Jugal Kishore Lohiya, the BJP’s official candidate, managed to bag only 6 votes in the election, as against the winning independent candidate Deepak Deshmukh’s 24 votes, including 11 votes from the BJP.
The dispute began when Dhananjay claimed the support of 11 of the 18 BJP councillors and asked for his candidate to be nominated for the president’s post. The senior Munde, however, decided to back the former president, Lohiya.
Dhananjay Munde, who had nurtured his uncle’s home constituency of Parli and Beed district, had been increasingly complaining about being sidelined by his uncle in Beed’s district politics. The younger Munde,
who has his own support base in Parli, had decided to get into a confrontation with his uncle, with tacit support from parties like the NCP and Congress.
“My uncle is still my idol. I had decided to put up my candidate just to show the people who were trying to create differences in my family their place,” Dhananjay Munde said after the elections.
A dejected Gopinath Munde meanwhile claimed that he was betrayed by his own people and that parties like the NCP had played a part in fomenting trouble within his clan.
Meanwhile, the state BJP said it would take action against all the individuals who voted against the whip that was issued by the party on the Council elections. “We will serve a show cause notice to everyone involved in this incident and take disciplinary action. No leader however big or small will be spared,” state BJP President Sudhir Mungattiwar said.
It will, however, be difficult for the BJP to handle the crisis as there were indications that Dhananjay Munde had the backing of some senior BJP leaders as well. Gopinath Munde, who had held sway over the functioning of the Maharashtra BJP for over three decades when his brother-in-law Pramod Mahajan was alive, has found himself increasingly alienated in the party with the emergence of leaders like BJP President Nitin Gadkari, with whom he is at loggerheads.